Mental health care begins with awareness

Although May is the month of mental health, the consequences and increasing visibility of mental health problems seem to surround us.

After the COVID-19 pandemic, mental health issues – suicide, drug use, domestic violence – were at the forefront of health and human services.

The NAMI Advocacy and Support Organization notes the importance of recognizing the prevalence of mental illness so that sufferers do not feel lonely, and working to reduce stigma and improve access to treatment for those who struggle is often silent.

But it seems that even as mental health problems are more prevalent in local and national conversations, there is a worsening crisis in drug use and suicide, especially among young people. Sober statistics:

• Every 5th adult experiences mental illness each year.

• Every 6 young people between the ages of 6 and 17 experience a mental health disorder each year.

• Half of all mental illnesses in life begin at age 14, 75 percent – before age 24.

• Suicide is the second leading cause of death among people aged 10 to 34 years

The pandemic has exacerbated many of these figures:

• Every 6 teenagers have experienced a major depressive episode; 3 million had serious thoughts of suicide.

• Every 5 young people reported that the pandemic had a significant negative impact on their mental health.

• Every 10 people under the age of 18 have experienced a mental health disorder after being diagnosed with COVID-19.

• Increased alcohol consumption was noted by 15 percent of adolescents and 18 percent of adults.

• Increased drug use is reported by 15 percent of adolescents and 19 percent of adults.

A pandemic is not the only factor. I am writing earlier this month The New York Times Morning Newsletter David Leanhardt calls the “sadness” among teenagers a crisis that began around 2009, when technology and social media were increasingly used.

Apple began selling the iPhone in 2007. Facebook opened to the public in late 2006, and one-third of Americans used it until 2009, according to the Times. “The impulse use of digital technology has changed the daily rhythms of life,” Leanhardt writes.

This has forced teens to spend less time on personal activities such as dating, hanging out with friends and attending church. The use of technology has also helped reduce exercise and sleep, which is believed to contribute to depression. Modern parenting strategies, among other factors, also play a role. But digital technologies – whether it’s social networking, video games, text messaging or other online activities – play a big role, many experts say.

Not only teenagers are worried. As the older adult population grows and becomes more diverse, mental health problems increase in this age group as well. The pandemic and social isolation affected both the elderly and the young.

“We know that social isolation negatively affects the elderly and can lead to feelings of loneliness and depression, which can negatively affect their physical and mental health and lead to a higher risk of death,” said Secretary of State for Aging Robert Torres. -release for Mental Health Day for the Elderly. “We also need to eliminate any stigma and myths surrounding older people and mental health that may prevent them from seeking help.”

Torres noted that one common myth is that depression is a normal, inevitable part of aging. However, when people face depression, it is often possible to successfully treat people, allowing them to live with a better sense of mental health and well-being.

The second mental health myth about aging is that suicide is a problem only among young people. “According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide rates are highest among men aged 65 and older, which is a clear indication of unmet mental health needs in the elderly,” Torres said.

Awareness of mental health issues is crucial to accepting and helping those in need. But even more important is knowing how to get help. None of the mental illnesses and their families need to go through this darkness alone. If you or any of your acquaintances suffer, there are resources. Feel free to contact and get help.

Here are a few places to start: the Department of Social Services’s Mental Health Support Service and Hotline, Persevere PA: 1-855-284-2494 (TTY: 724-631-5600); National Suicide Prevention Line: 1-800-273-TALK (8255); Suicide Prevention National Line: 1-888-628-9454; Crisis text line: PA text at 741741; Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-273-TALK (8255); Disaster help phone: 1-800-985-5990; The Trevor Project Lifeline (LGBTQ): 1-866-488-7386 The Beginning Text at 678-678; Trust phone Trans: 877-565-8860 and link PA: 1-800-753-8827.

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